Membership in 90% of Christian denominations is in decline. Meanwhile, nondenominational churches have steadily grown since 2001—and the number of self-identified evangelicals is also on the rise. What’s going on here? In a lengthy article in Christianity Today, Ed Stetzer explains that:
According to many church leaders, denominations are not fading away—they are actually inhibiting growth. I have heard many pastors denounce denominations as hindering more than helping their churches’ mission. Others carp at wasteful spending, bureaucratic ineffectiveness, or structural redundancies; these objections seem to have gained adherents in an economic climate of pinching every penny. Loyalty to a denomination has declined and in some cases disappeared.
Stetzer goes on to argue that denominations are actually beneficial for doing missions work. For example:
Missionaries funded by a denomination are able to spend much more time actually being missionaries, while self-supported missionaries from independent churches and loosely connected networks often need to spend copious amounts of time fundraising.
Stetzer also predicts that networks like Acts 29 will, in future years, function more like denominations (just like the denominations of today began as networks).
Check out Stetzer’s case. A careful, analytical observer of the church, its mission, and the broader culture, Stetzer is always worth reading on these matters.